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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 22, April 2005


Forthcoming Events – a packed Spring/Summer diary

The talks of autumn and winter now make way for walks during spring and summer. We are pleased to see so many members attending the events and look forward to seeing more of you over the coming months.

Sunday 22 May – support us at the Fernhurst Revels
By popular demand, the Society will again be providing a Homemade Chilli stall at the Revels. Meat and Vegetarian options will be available, but come early to avoid disappointment! The Fernhurst Society is a registered charity and proceeds contribute to our running costs.

Sunday 12 June – see conservation in action at Burton Mill Pond
This afternoon walk will be led by Graham West, a Ranger for South Downs Conservation Board, at Burton Mill Pond near Duncton. Burton Mill Pond is a local Nature Reserve and an SSSI noted for its dragonflies, sedges, wet and dry heath and bogs. Meet at the car park beside the Mill House (map reference: SU 978180) by 2pm. There is a delightful tea room at the Mill. For more information call Julia via the Society's email.

Saturday 2 July – an early morning exploration of Thursley Common
Join us for a morning start to get the best out of this 2-hour walk. Richard Ranft, our resident nature expert, will lead this walk to listen for birdsong and spot early summer flora and fauna. Bring your binoculars and sturdy walking shoes as paths are uneven and can be a little boggy after rain. Meet at the Moat Pond car park (map reference: SU 901417) by 9:30am. For more information call Richard via the Society's email.

Sunday 7 August – discover historic Vann Road & Van Common
Helen Ouin and Robin & Carla Barnes will lead this history stroll to discover the secrets of Vann Road and Van Common. Meet at Crossfields Car Park by 2pm. For more information contact Julia via the Society's web site.

Sunday 4 September – ramble round Blackdown
A National Trust warden will lead us on this afternoon walk on Blackdown. We will arrange for transfers to/from Crossfields to the main Blackdown Car Park for a 2pm start.
Meet at Crossfields Car Park by 1:45pm. For more information contact the web site.

Sunday 18 September – penultimate Boundary Walk
The last-but-one leg of the boundary walk takes us from Elmers Marsh to Lower Lodge Farm. Meet at the Crossfields Car Park by 1:45pm and transfers to/from the start point will be organised. For more information contact Julia via the Society's web site.


Junior Fernhurst Society

The Junior Society is for children 5-12 years old (parents must be present to supervise 5 and 6 year olds). It meets monthly on Saturday mornings for a couple of hours. The focus is on involving children in practical activities centred on nature conservation and local history. Contact Julia or Sue via the Society's web site for information on activities.
We welcome newcomers for all or any of the following planned events:

Saturday 14 May, 10am - a trip out to Furnace Pond to understand the history of iron workings in the area.
Saturday 18 June, 10am – an art session to submit an entry in the Fernhurst Centre art competition.
Saturday 17 Sept, 10am – a trip to Blackdown with NT Warden, Matt Bramich, comparing Blackdown greensand soil samples with village clay.
Saturday 15 Oct, 10am – a unique opportunity to hear from Robin Barnes about local coppicing and woodland management


A look at recent events

We hope these synopses encourage you to join some of our scheduled events.

Parish Boundary Walk continues apace
We walked another leg of the Parish Boundary on Sunday 3 April, from Scotland’s Farm to Elmers Marsh. There was an excellent turn out, with about 40 people on a sunny afternoon. Judith Turner, the walk leader, gave a fascinating commentary of the land, boundary and people who used to live along this stretch – a mix of historic research, gossip, fact and “mis-information”. A fun outing!

Junior Fernhurst Society all aflutter
In March an expert from the RSPB came to talk to the Junior Fernhurst Society and gave an illustrated talk about garden birds. The children were told which features are used to distinguish birds, by looking at size, overall shape, colour, eye and wing markings, beak shape, habitat, flight pattern and birdsong. Using some lovely photos he then showed how these features help identify a range of birds that they might see locally. They were surprised to learn that the wren is not our smallest bird, but instead the goldcrest, although the long tailed tit would be the smallest if it didn't have such a long tail, weighing in at only 4 grams! He also told them about the importance of making sure our birds survive and how to go about feeding and giving them nest boxes and water. The children were enthralled. Afterwards we went down to our site next to the recreation ground to see which of our recently planted wild flowers had survived the winter and whether there were signs of activity in the bird boxes.

Archive Team uncover Edwardian Fernhurst
The Society’s March talk by the Archive Team was a hugely popular event. Brenda Newman, Iain Brown and Christine Maynard spoke about the schooling, sports and social activities in Fernhurst from 1901 - 1910, based on the school log book, old parish magazines and a wonderful selection of photographs from the period. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.


Society Projects

Oral History Project

The project continues to make good progress. Interviews will continue until May, and all transcriptions will be completed by June.

The Society plans to create a book, about 10-12 chapters, 160-pages (A5-ish size) with each chapter a combination of text and visuals. Christine Maynard & the Archive Team are helping to source suitable photographs, and the Art Group has agreed to provide illustrations for the start of each chapter.

The Oral History team was also able to support the WWII project work being undertaken by the school and Fernhurst Centre. The school will become more involved after the summer holidays, particularly in preparation of the web-site.

Anyone interested in helping with interviewing, transcribing or preparation of the book should contact Anthony Davies or John Clark via the Society's web site.


Fernhurst Parish Action Plan

Village or Parish Action Plans are part of the Vital Villages Programme, run by the Countryside Agency. This programme aims to help rural communities find out what is needed in their parish so that they have a voice in their future. This enables the Parish Council to make decisions and representations on behalf of the parish.

The Fernhurst Parish Action Plan was started in April 2003 when the idea was put forward at the Annual General Meeting of the Parish Council. A Steering Committee was set up which included representatives from various sections of the community and members of the Parish Council.

Open meetings for the community were arranged in January and February 2004 so that the main issues and concerns of the community-at-large could be highlighted and understood. The children at the Primary School were invited to give their views at a meeting at the Fernhurst Centre and the 11-18 year olds to give theirs at an open meeting at the Centre.

The Countryside Agency awarded a substantial grant towards the cost of the programme and there were also grants from the County and District Councils and the Parish Council, as well as Martlet Homes who helped fund the Youth Consultation. Two questionnaires were drawn up (one for adults and one for young persons) and delivered to all households in June 2004. There was a very good response. The returned questionnaires were analysed professionally by Action in Rural Sussex and the results and proposed actions arising from the analysis were displayed at January's Open Exhibition. This was very well attended and provided an opportunity for people to suggest amendments to the proposed actions.

The preparation of the Fernhurst Parish Action Plan is now moving to its final phase and is on target for publication this summer. The Action Plan Steering Group, which includes representatives from the Society's Executive Committee, have been putting together the final text for the Action Plan.

The topics covered by the Action Plan are Traffic, Transport, Mobility (for people with a mobility handicap), Crossfields, Environment, Recreation Ground, Housing, Youth and Communication. Some of the actions identified under these topics are already underway.

Where appropriate, small action groups will be formed to work on proposed Actions along with the Steering Group, the Parish Council and other community groups, as well as people who have expressed an interest to help. It is expected that the Parish Council will review the Action Plan at their monthly meetings and that the Community will be kept informed through the Fernhurst News and Parish Council notice boards.

If you would like more information about the Society’s involvement in the Fernhurst Parish Action Plan project please call Peter on 643678.


Fernhurst Village Archive

The Archives Team has been busy as usual, including presenting ‘Shops & Shopping’ and ‘Down Memory Highway’ for the Good Companions, and a presentation to the Junior Society members, during January. The use of the Society’s new digital equipment greatly enhanced the quality of the material.

The team has also recently deposited the Wilcock Diary on permanent loan to West Sussex Records Office (WSRO), where it can be better preserved. In return they will microfiche it, and Archives will get a hard copy. Iain Brown has also been able to photograph old Parish Magazines at the Records Office, in return for providing a duplicate set of 1905-1912 magazines.

Recent donations include several photograph albums of the early days at Verdley, compiled by the late George Lockie, from his son Robert. Terry Parkhouse also added to the Optimists memorabilia with photographs, programmes and press cuttings of productions from the 1960s onwards.
A member of the committee also donated a ‘newer-than-the-old-one’ computer. The team will now be able to use database software so that the records can be computerised. It will be compatible with the WSRO too.

The Village Archive is open on Tuesday afternoons in the Village Hall (above the clerk’s office). Just turn up. If this is not convenient please call Christine Maynard for an appointment.


Another date for your diary…

The Society is supporting the conservation efforts of the Fernhurst Furnace. This local site is deteriorating rapidly due to water erosion. Robin Barnes is leading a team to set up a Trust, which makes it easier to apply for grants to conserve and protect the site. The Trust will be holding a launch day on 10 September, to coincide with Heritage Day. Look out for more information about the event in the Fernhurst News or call Robin on 654088.


Society Committee News

Jean Moreton

It is with great regret that we record the recent death of Jean Moreton. Jean was a founding member of the Fernhurst Society Executive Committee. She was generous with her time and energy, and was a popular figure at Society events, co-ordinating and organising refreshments and raffles. She also efficiently organised the distribution of the Society Newsletter. She will be much missed at our committee meetings and events, and we pass our condolences to Jean’s family.

Chairman’s Role

In November our Chairman, Julia Roxan, will have completed three years in her role, and we must now reluctantly consider a replacement. Julia has been very active and overseen a number of new and existing projects during her tenure, and we are looking for candidates who have the time to oversee the Society’s existing projects, and to carry on the development of the Society. The Chairman is well supported by an Executive Committee, who all share responsibilities and activities, so no one person has onerous duties. The minimum Chairman’s activities include:
1. Prepare and Chair Executive Committee meetings (6 per annum)
2. Chair public meetings and Xmas party (5 per annum)
3. Support all the Society events, projects and activities (ad hoc, as required)
4. Represent the Society at Parish Council meetings (ad hoc, if required)
If you would like to know more, or if you or someone you know ‘fits the bill’, please call contact Julia via the Society's web site.


Executive Committee welcomes new members

The Society is pleased to welcome two new members to the Executive Committee: Alan Futty and Nick Unsworth. We always welcome new members to the committee as they bring fresh skills and perspectives to our activities. Alan is a lawyer, and a long-term resident of the village. Nick is a GP, although currently not practicing as he’s recovering from illness. We’re delighted they are able to find the time to contribute to our meetings.

The Society Executive Committee meets six times a year to report on project progress and to plan future activities. The evening meetings are sociable and informal, and the committee represents a cross-section of the Fernhurst community. If you would like to know more about becoming a Committee member then please contact Julia.

Miscellaneous Section

Spring has sprung in the Junior Members

We always welcome letters and contributions to the Newsletter. Two of our regular Junior Members have submitted this update on their latest event:

“At Junior Fernhurst Society we went on a Spring walk to see the signs of spring like flowers, birds and trees. We saw Slender Speedwells, Cuckoo flowers and Herb Roberts. I expected to see Buttercups but instead we saw Lesser Celandine, Barren Strawberries and Wood Anemone. We only saw a few birds because we were noisy. But we did see a robin and some rooks. We heard pheasants and blue tits. We learnt that wild cherry trees could be recognised by the horizontal lines on their bark. A lot of the trees had ivy climbing up the trunks.”

By Alice Gurr and Catriona Gibbon

Have you visited the Society Website?

The Society's website continues to attract potential new members as well as a range of enquiries from all over Britain and overseas. Many enquiries are related to family history. The 'archives' page of the website has been expanded, with historical information and illustrations about Verdley House, The Revels, and old parish maps.

A detailed description of Fernhurst’s connection with the iron industry in the 17th and 18th Centuries has been included in a new page on Fernhurst history, including information on the Furnace Trust. Previous issues of the Society Newsletter are available on the website.

Recommendations for website additions are always welcome. Contact the Society by email.


History Walk Booklets available for sale

We’d like to remind members that two History Walk Booklets are available for purchase (£1 each) from the Fernhurst Centre, Post Office and Society Events. The booklets have been written by local historian, Helen Ouin, and illustrated by Angela Parrott.

History Booklet No 1 covers the history walk along Church Road and the Village Green
History Booklet No 2 covers the history and nature walk led by Helen and Iain Brown last summer, from the Red Lion, up to Tanyard, back down Ropes Lane and along the Lickfold Road back to the start point.

Both are useful guides for visitors wanting to know more about the village.